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Centre�s bid to promote organic farming in NE

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, Jan 8 - The Centre is all set to launch a major campaign to promote organic farming in the North-east region with a budgetary allocation of Rs 125 crore.

Addressing a curtain raiser briefing on the national conference on �Sustainable Agriculture and Farmers� Welfare�, scheduled to be held at Gangtok from January 17 to 19, which will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers� Welfare Radha Mohan Singh said the Centre proposes to go on a mission mode in the North-east to promote organic farming.

The conference is being jointly organised by the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers� Welfare and the Government of Sikkim. The Prime Minister will also inaugurate a flower show on January 18 and an organic exhibition on January 19.

The Centre has allocated Rs 1.25 crore for the North-east and the DoNER Ministry has given the consent to the Agriculture Ministry to promote organic farming. The Agriculture Ministry proposes to spend about Rs 200 crore in the North-east on a 90:10 pattern of sharing funds, he added.

The Minister said that Sikkim is the first State to have adopted organic farming on a universal basis. The State, which has an Act that prohibits use of agro-chemicals, has already taken steps to convert its entire arable 74,000 hectares of land into organic farming. It is now focusing on certification, branding, processing and marketing so that farmers get premium price on the organically-cultivated produce, the Minister said.

Meanwhile, DoNER Minister Dr Jitendra Singh, who was also present at the briefing, said that at least half the potential of organic agriculture in North-east has been unexplored for long.

Stating that a historic resolution was made in 2003, to transform Sikkim into a 100 per cent organic State, the DoNER Minister said that the Centre was planning to link Sikkim by rail, making it the third State in North East to join the rail map of India.

A greenfield airport at Gangtok will become operational by 2017, Dr Singh announced. Proper utilisation of this potential will generate employment in the North-east and contribute to the Act East Policy, he added.

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